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SHRIMP IS KING

SHRIMP IS KING

By Nanette Hebdige

This crustacean has been subtly strutting along, gaining notoriety with every cuisine piling it high. It’s got its very own star on the culinary walk of fame due to its global obsession! Resonating in every culture – shrimp is king.

In Italy, Fra Diavolo is served at almost every locale and the Americanized-Italian version of shrimp scampi is prepared in many households. Spanish Gambas al Ajillo marries shrimp with a boat load of garlic, parsley, wine and lemon. India showcases succulent shrimp curries; Mexico’s shrimp wheelhouse offers tacos and moles and in Latin countries, escabeche is their version of ceviche.

In the south it’s the bounty of the county, triumphant with their creamy, dreamy shrimp and grits, craklin’ crispy po’ boy sandwiches and a huge contender in mouthwatering Jambalayas and éttoufées. Shrimp cocktail is an ever-present hors d’oeuvre, given much pomp and ceremony at parties, paired with that inimitable remoulade sauce (see below).

Due to its affordability and ease of cooking, it can be yanked out of the freezer and luxuriated in stews, soups and salads, added to Asian stir-frys and thrown on the Barbie for good measure.

So, it’s no wonder Americans are ubiquitously consuming more shrimp than ever in history, a staggering almost 1.5 billion lbs a year. Even with questions on environmental sustainability, wild caught is best and a coastal commodity. Most of the farm raised shrimp which comes from South East Asia, India and South America, is rife with questionably badly run facilities, unfair labor laws, overcrowded and antibiotic ridden ponds. Lamentably, change in the aquaculture laws isn’t happening fast enough, despite the international clamor for change.

When purchasing your shrimp, ensure its wild caught and its humanely harvested.

Here are some mind-blowing recipes that are game changers for your culinary repertoire.

 

CHIPOTLE TEQUILA SHRIMP TACOS

Considering that tacos are indigenous to Mexico, the taco scene has become extremely competitive. Everyone is bringing major funk to the taco with some unusual textures and flavors that even combine Asian with Mexican heritage. Chipotle-tequila flavors predominate here and provide a stellar vehicle to showcase the shrimp with the addition of rice or lovingly cocooned in a tortilla.

 

 

1 LB of large shrimp deveined and tails removed

½ cup of finely chopped onion

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 chipotle chili in adobo – chopped

15 oz can of diced tomatoes – drained

½ cup of fresh chopped pineapple

2 TBSP of tequila

2 cups of chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh lime wedges

Avocado slices

Fresh Mexican crema or sour creamIn a skillet heat some oil and sweat the onions with a pinch of salt. Add the garlic and the chopped chili with some of the adobo sauce and cook a few minutes. Add the tequila and reduce for a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Add the tomatoes and some chopped cilantro. Reduce for about 15 mins. Cool and add to a blender with the pineapple and additional fresh cilantro. Puree till creamy adjusting the seasonings.

Salt and pepper the shrimp and in the same skillet where the onions and tomatoes cooked, add a little oil and sear them until they are no longer pink. Add the blended adobo sauce to coat thorough the shrimp and remove from the heat so not to overcook them.

Serve in tortillas (corn or flour) with avocado, cilantro, cotija cheese and the crema with lime wedges, or on top of rice.

 

SHRIMP PO’ BOY

In bayou country the Po’ Boy reigns supreme and you can’t possible cruise the streets in New Orleans (N’awlins for the locals) and not sample this staple. What makes this sandwich a total rock star is the airy French baguette it’s served in. Typically, this is a breaded and deep-fried rendition of either oysters or shrimp, but for a less guilty pleasure it’s equally great roasted or sautéed. It’s a relatively simple recipe and the remoulade with the drizzle of Louisiana hot sauce on top makes it jam! For an element of freshness add tomatoes and lettuce, oh and some pickled red onions make it totally genius.

 

Best remoulade sauce

½ cup of mayo – homemade or store bought

½ Poblano pepper – seeds removed

1 TSP grainy Poupon mustard

½ TSP creamy horseradish

1 TSP sweet chili sauce

1 TSP ketchup

2 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP finely minced shallot

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove – minced

2 heaped TBSP capers – chopped and drained

Pinch of cayenne

½ TSP honey

Pinch of kosher salt and black pepper

Place all the above ingredients in a blender (omitting the mayo) and process till chunky. Add to a bowl and fold in the mayo. Adjust seasonings and keep chilled.

 

Quick pickled red onions

Don’t omit these, it will make your sandwich a rock-star, or any sandwich, tacos or hamburger for that matter.

½ cup of red wine vinegar

6 TBSP of grenadine syrup

Pinch of kosher salt

1 heaped TBSP sugar

3 TBSP lime juice

½ red onion sliced or 2 shallots sliced

Bring the ingredients (minus the onions) to a quick boil. Cool and add to a bowl with the onions. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

Sandwich

½ TSP each dried thyme and oregano

½ TSP each of garlic powder onion powder

½ TSP each sweet paprika and smoked paprika

½ TSP cayenne pepper

½ TSP kosher salt

 

1 LB of large raw shrimp – deveined, peeled and tails removed

1 cup of buttermilk

½ cup of cornmeal

1 cup of all-purpose flour – APF

2 ripe tomatoes – sliced

Chopped romaine lettuce or whole slices or curly red leaf lettuce

 

Heat about 2” of vegetable or corn oil in a large pan and attach a deep fry thermometer to the side allowing the temp to get up to 350F.

Whisk the dry ingredients in a working bowl. Coat the shrimp in the spice mixture. Add the buttermilk in another bowl with a splash of hot sauce. Add the APF and cornmeal in another bowl and mix in the leftover dry spice rub whisking well.

Add the shrimp to the buttermilk and soak for about 30 minutes. Dredge the shrimp in the flour and cornmeal. Working in batches deep fry the shrimp till golden and cooked through – about 4 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.

Split the rolls horizontally, place the remoulade on both sides, slices of tomato, lettuce and add the shrimp of top with the pickled onions, a small squeeze of lemon juice with a drizzle of Louisiana Hot Sauce.

 

SHRIMP SCAMPI PASTA

 

I always become an archeologist foraging through my fridge and pantry. Here, pasta gets crowned with delectable prawns and the addition of cherry tomatoes that add a splash of vibrancy along with some basil and parsley. Any pasta would work here, although the obvious would be linguini, bucatini or spaghetti, but you can use penne rigate as well. Ensure a decent amount of garlic is utilized and don’t omit the crumb topping, it’s what truly crowns this dish.

 

10-15 cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 TSP finally grated lemon zest

8 garlic cloves – sliced

10 basil leaves – cut in a chiffonade

½ cup of dry white wine

½ cup of fresh lemon juice

1 TBSP lemon zest

2 TBSP fresh chopped parsley

1 LB of med/large shrimp raw, peeled and deveined

1 cup of coarsely dried breadcrumbs (preferably from old sourdough or baguette)

½ cup of fresh chopped parsley

Pinch of red pepper flakes

 

Bring a large pot of water generously salted to a boil.

Heat about 2 TBSP of olive oil to a skillet and add the breadcrumbs. Sauté over med-low heat stirring being careful not to burn for about 2-3 minutes till toasted. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, parsley and some salt and pepper and keep in a bowl.

Add 2 TBSP of olive oil to the skillet sear the shrimp – 1 minute per side. Remove to a bowl. Add a little more oil to the skillet and throw in the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pour the wine and lemon juice, reducing by half. Whisk in about 2 TBSP of butter, the tomatoes and add the shrimp to the pan and cook through, about 2 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook till all dente. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the liquid. Toss the pasta with the shrimp, adding the basil and some of the reserved pasta water, adjusting seasonings.

Serve in a large bowl and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.

 

GAMBAS AL AJILLO (Spanish Shrimp with garlic)

Gambas al Ajillo are a staple dish offered in the central and southern parts of Spain and it represents a quintessential part of Spanish food culture. The main protagonists are lots of olive oil and a boat load of garlic and it’s served as a tapas appetizer with crusty bread to mop up the decadent sauce. This is a dish that is robust in its simplicity, yet packs a wallop in the flavor department. Be sure to use fresh shrimp and not frozen. This will win you major kudos as a start to a dinner party!

 

1 LB of raw shrimp, deveined peeled and tails left on

10 cloves of garlic – peeled and thinly sliced

½ TSP of Spanish sweet paprika

1 TSP of grated lemon zest

1 cup of Spanish olive oil

Pinch of dried chili flakes or 1 small dried chili, seeded

½ cup of chopped fresh parsley

2 TBSP of dry sherry

French baguette slices

Season shrimp with salt and pepper.

In a skillet heat up the oil gently. Add the garlic and cook moderately for abut 2/3 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the chili flakes and the paprika. Add the shrimp and sauté until cooked and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, sherry, parsley and another pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and serve immediately in earthenware bowls with plenty of the crusty bread and some good Rioja wine.

 

SHRIMP AND GRITS WITH RED EYE GRAVY

To quote one of the most famous lines in My Cousin Vinny, “no self-respectin’ southerner uses instant grits!”. Southerners are a tough crowd and that couldn’t be more evident with their cuisine, as their roots are firmly imprinted in their food. Creole seasoning can be purchased but it’s very simple to make and fresh is always best. Additionally, as strange as it may sound, the main component in red-eye gravy is coffee, giving it a full bodied and amazing flavor. Since the south doesn’t do things in half measure, don’t be calling the butter police because there’s plenty incorporated here – but who said that shrimp and grits have to be part of your everyday diet?

 

Creole seasoning

In a small bowl mix:

1 TSP kosher salt

½ TSP fresh cracked pepper

Pinch of cayenne

½ TSP each of sweet and smoky paprika

½ TSP chili powder

¼ TSP ground coriander

¼ TSP ground cumin

½ TSP ground mustard

½ TSP of old bay seasoning

½ TSP salt

 

Grits

2 cups of milk

2 cups of water

1 cup of stone ground grits

4 TBSP butter

 

1 LB of large raw shrimp – deveined, peeled and tails left on

2 large shallots – finely chopped

2 garlic cloves – finely chopped

1 cup of freshly brewed coffee

1 cup of low sodium chicken stock

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

2 TBSP all-purpose flour – APF

2 TBSP butter

 

Bring the water and milk to a boil salting generously, as grits need salt. Whisk in the grits and simmer for about 40 minutes will creamy, stirring often. Add the butter and test for seasonings.

In a large skillet with high sides, heat some canola oil. Add the chopped shallots and the garlic and sweat with 1 TBSP of the creole seasoning. Whisk the flour and cook out the raw flour taste, about ¾ minutes. Add the coffee, stock, splash of tabasco and simmer till thickened for about 40 minutes stirring often. When done, add 2 TBSP of butter.

Season the shrimp with some of the creole seasoning. In a sperate skillet, heat up some canola oil and sauté the shrimp for about 2 minutes per side till no longer transparent.

Place the grits in a bowl, with the shrimp on top and pout the gravy around the sides and finish with some fresh parsley.

 

SHRIMP BURGER

 

The beauty in a burger is that can make it out of anything. Most important with any burger is to ensure the patty doesn’t fall apart when cooking. Like scallops, shrimp contains a high amount of natural gelatin, making it the perfect vehicle for a burger. Any flavors can be showcased here and by pureeing half the shrimp and chopping the rest, it creates tremendous texture. Feel free to elevate the heat factor and additional toppings can include, crispy onions, avocado slices and pickled radishes. And for the fastidious avoiding carbs, wrap it in lettuce.

PS – If you are traveling through Korea, McDonalds has a shrimp burger on their menu!

 

 

1 LB of raw shrimp, deveined, shells and tails removed

1 bunch of fresh cilantro – washed, stems removed and chopped roughly

1 TBSP of garlic paste – Gourmet Garden brand

2 TSP of ginger paste – Gourmet Garden brand

1 TSP of lemongrass paste – Gourmet brand

1-2 TSP sesame oil

1 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP fish sauce

1 TSP unseasoned rice wine vinegar

½ TSP gochujang paste

1 TSP of sweet chili sauce or Siracha

1 cup of chopped scallions

4 brioche buns

Curly lettuce

Tomato slices

 

Quick pickled red onions

½ cup of red wine vinegar

6 TBSP of grenadine syrup

Pinch of kosher salt

1 heaped TBSP sugar

3 TBSP lime juice

½ red onion sliced or 2 shallots sliced

Bring the ingredients (minus the onions) to a quick boil. Cool and add to a bowl with the onions. Marinate for at least 2 hours.Asian Aioli

1 cup of mayo – homemade or store bought

½ TSP Siracha

½ TSP sesame oil

½ cup of fresh chopped cilantro

1 TBSP of soy sauce

1 TBSP rice wine vinegar

½ cup of chopped scallions

1 finely chopped shallot

½ TSP lime zest

Pinch of sugar

Juice of half lime

Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper

 

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.

BURGER

Place ½ the shrimp in the food processor and puree. Rough chop the rest of the shrimp to medium/small size pieces. Place all the shrimp in a working bowl, add all the other seasonings and mix with gloved hands. Form into patties and chill for about 30 mins.

Spread some oil in a grill pan and heat. Grill the patties on medium heat till done – about 5 minutes per side. Toast both sides of the bread. On the bottom bun, spread some the aioli, place lettuce, tomato slices, the patty and top with additional aioli, the pickled onions and fresh cilantro.

 

MALAYSIAN PAWN SAMBAL – SAMBAL UDANG

Having lived in Singapore many years, one’s palate becomes overly sensitized to certain flavors pertaining to the South East Asian regions and Sambal Udang is a true favorite. This Asian recipe is rampant with briny prawn flavor, bursting with the citrusy undertone of the kefir lime leaves and the complex, yet fiery sambal taking it over the top. All the ingredients can be purchased at specialized Asian markets or on Amazon, so don’t shy away from making this, the ingredients will keep in your refrigerator for many months and will lend themselves for loads of dishes. Word of caution: this is for lovers of spicy heat – it’s not for the faint of heart, as it’s volcanically hot.

 

1 LB of medium raw shrimp deveined, peeled and tails left on

2 TBSP of tamarind concentrate

2 TBSP lemongrass paste – Gourmet garden brand

2 TBSP ginger paste – Gourmet Garden brand

3 cloves of garlic chopped

1 or 2 Thai red chilis – seeds removed

1 large onion – rough chopped

2 TSP of belachan (fermented chili shrimp paste)

½ TSP ground turmeric

2 TSP sugar

1 kefir lime leaf (Kefir lime is hard to obtain, so it can be purchased dried and its equally as good as fresh)

1 TSP dark soy sauce

1 TBSP fish sauce – Nuoc Nam

½ cup of water plus 2 TBSP

Canola oil for frying

Place the onion, garlic and chili in a food processor and process to a thick paste. Add the 2 TBSP of warm water to emulsify with a very small drizzle of canola oil. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk the rest of the ingredients, save the kefir lime, tamarind, sugar and shrimp.

Heat up a wok until very hot and drizzle the oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the sambal paste. Fry for a few minutes, tossing constantly until it starts to separate, and the oil starts forming around the edge. Incorporate the shrimp and the ½ cup of water – add the kefir lime, turmeric, tamarind, sugar and keep stirring constantly until shrimp is no longer pink. You want the sauce to become a paste and not “saucy”. Serve over steamed jasmine rice with wedges of lime and fresh cilantro.

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